Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens

Get your game notes: Canadiens at Bruins


Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Boston Bruins hosting the Montreal Canadiens starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Tonight marks the start of the 34th all-time playoff series and the 171st all-time playoff game between Montreal and Boston. The Bruins had the slight edge between the Original Six clubs in the early years, before the Canadiens rattled off 18 straight series wins over 41 years (1946-1987). Since 1988, when the Bruins finally broke through again, Boston has won seven of the 11 series.

• The Canadiens return to competition after sweeping Tampa Bay nine days ago (Apr. 22). It was the Habs’ 22nd sweep in a best-of-seven series in franchise history and first since 1993, the year they went on to win their 24th (and most recent) Stanley Cup title.

• Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who leads the NHL this postseason in GAA (1.16) and save% (.961), will be starting his first-career playoff game vs. the Canadiens. The Vezina Trophy finalist has struggled vs. Montreal during his regular-season career, going 3-10-3 in 17 appearances (one no-decision), with a 2.63 GAA, .908 save% and one shutout. He has never beaten the Habs at TD Garden (0-4-3, 3.35 GAA, .833 save%).

• Boston allowed a league-low 1.20 goals/game in their first-round, five-game series win vs. Detroit. The six goals allowed by Rask and the Bruins were the fewest allowed by the club in a series going five or more games since the 1939 Stanley Cup vs. Toronto (also six goals in five games). In their last 10 playoff games vs. Eastern Conf. opponents dating back to last season (Gm. 5 vs. NYR, Gms. 1-4 vs. PIT, Gms. 1-5 vs. DET), they allowed only nine goals.

• In the first round, Montreal led all playoff teams with 4.00 goals/game, but none of their 16 goals came from defensemen. The Canadiens averaged 34.5 shots/game, but no Habs defenseman had more than nine shots on goal (P.K. Subban). The Bruins scored 2.80 goals/game in the first round; four of their 14 goals came from their blueline (Zdeno Chara – 2, Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton).

• Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher (3-2–5) enters tonight’s game with points in all four games this postseason and goals in his last three games. Gallagher became the third-ever Montreal player age 21 or younger to score in at least three straight playoff games in one series (Steve Shutt, Games 1-4 vs. NYR, 1974; and Shayne Corson, Games 5-7, 1987 vs. Quebec). Elias Sports Bureau

• Bruins winger Jarome Iginla, who scored the OT game-winner in Game 4 and the series-clincher on an empty-net goal in Game 5, will be playing in his 75th playoff game tonight. Iginla has now suited up in 1,384 NHL games (1,310 regular season, 74 playoff), the most among all active players who have never won the Stanley Cup.

• Bruins coach Claude Julien will be behind the bench for his third postseason series involving these two teams. Each of the previous series went seven games, and he was on the winning side in both of them, for Montreal in the 2004 Eastern Conf. Quarterfinals and Boston in the 2011 Eastern Conf. Quarterfinals. That 2011 Bruins side went on to win the franchise’s sixth Stanley Cup.

Kyle Connor expected to be healthy scratch for Jets

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 23:  Goalie Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers pushes Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets  during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic hockey game on October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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Jets rookie Kyle Connor played just 10:09 in Sunday’s outdoor loss to the Oilers, and tonight in Dallas it appears he’ll be a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career.

Connor was not among the 12 Winnipeg forwards taking line rushes this morning. The 19-year-old has just one assist in his first five games as a Jet. He’s a minus-5 and has also struggled in terms of possession, as evidenced by his 38 percent Corsi.

The 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Connor spent one year at the University of Michigan before leaving school to turn pro. He’s eligible to be sent to the AHL this season, something the Jets are no doubt considering.

Winnipeg has a number of potential call-ups on its farm club, including Marko Dano, Quinton Howden, Andrew Copp, Nicolas Petan, and Jack Roslovic.

Babcock’s had his fill of goalie questions, thanks

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  Head coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on prior to the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Mike Babcock is aware Toronto’s goaltending hasn’t been good this season.

He’s also aware that Toronto’s goaltending hasn’t been good the last few seasons.

Thing is, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

“It’s five games in, isn’t it?” Babcock replied on Tuesday, when asked about the Leafs’ shaky netminding so far, specifically the play of Frederik Andersen. “Let’s just take a deep breath here.”

And here’s a transcript of what followed (courtesy Sportsnet)!

Reporter: The guy on Saturday night said the Leafs goaltending has been lousy this year.

Babcock: Who did?

Reporter: The guy on Saturday night — Don Cherry.

Babcock: Oh, OK. Well now that I know where I’m getting my facts from, here we go. Come on. Let’s move on. What’s next here? Holy [expletive].

Reporter: No, but seriously, it’s been an issue for this market probably since Ed Belfour left, and I’m wondering if there’s anything to that.

Babcock: But I’m not dealing with that. This is what I would tell you. We think we have a really good goaltender. At the World Cup I had three outstanding goaltenders, and they all talked about how much time it usually takes to get ready.

Our guy didn’t have that opportunity because of his injury. We’re real comfortable with him. Do we think he’s played as good as he’s capable of playing? No. Do we think he’s going to? Yes.

Babcock’s right to suggest it’s too early to start grading Andersen. First, there’s the adjustment from playing behind a good team in a small market (Anaheim) to playing behind a “growing team” in a massive, pressure-packed market like Toronto.

There’s also the additional pressure that came with Andersen’s acquisition price (a first- and second-round pick) and his subsequent contract extension (five years, $25 million).

The injury suffered playing for Denmark in Olympic qualifying was definitely a setback, as there’s no doubt some games for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey would’ve better prepared Andersen for the season.

Still, it’s hard to look at his numbers — 1-0-3, .879 save percentage, 3.63 GAA — and not be at least a little concerned.

Unless you’re Mike Babcock, that is.

Related: The list of struggling netminders is a long one, as it’s been goals galore to start the year

Elliott gets the start in return to St. Louis

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24: Matt Stajan #18 and Lance Bouma #17 of the Calgary Flames congratulate Brian Elliott #1 after a shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Flames defeated the Blachawks 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Brian Elliott will be in Calgary’s crease against his old team tonight in St. Louis.

Even though Elliott played last night in Chicago, it was an easy decision for Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan. Elliott had easily his best game of the season against the Blackhawks, stopping 31 of 33 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory. The 31-year-old turned away all seven Chicago shooters in the breakaway competition, helping the Flames to just their second win of the young season.

“I definitely wanted that one,” Elliott told reporters afterwards. “We haven’t been playing like we wanted to and the guys came out and had a heck of an effort.”

Elliott started 164 games for the Blues during his five years in St. Louis. Last season, he backstopped them to their first conference final since 2001. He was then traded to Calgary in June, paving the way for Jake Allen to become the full-time starter in St. Louis.

Related: The list of struggling goalies is a long one

Crosby on track to make season debut tonight

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 30: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins waits for a face-off against the 
New Jersey Devils during the third period at the Prudential Center on January 30, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
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Yesterday, Sidney Crosby participated in a full-contact practice.

Today, it appears he’ll make his season debut when the Penguins host the Panthers tonight in Pittsburgh.

“He had a strong practice this morning,” head coach Mike Sullivan said, per the club. “Everything is pointing in the right direction. If he’s comfortable, he could play.”

Crosby has missed just six games due to the concussion he sustained during practice on Oct. 7. Given his history with concussions, if he plays tonight, it has to be considered a best-case scenario. Certainly, there had been fear he could be out much longer.

For the record, Crosby told reporters he’ll be a game-time decision.